Coronavirus impacting mental health of South Carolinians

Local News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The coronavirus is impacting businesses, schools and mental health resources.

Many mental health agencies and organizations are working to provide more resources during this coronavirus crisis in response to an increased number of people seeking help.

Businesses and agencies are closed across the state out of coronavirus concerns.

But at Mental Health America of Greenville County dozens of volunteers are working around the clock answering suicide prevention hotline calls.

“At 2 o’clock in the morning on Easter day, our volunteers and staff will be there to provide that support,” said Susan Smyre Haire, with MHAGC.

The organization has seen a more than 50% increase in the number of calls from this time last year. In 2019, the more than 20,000 calls were made to the suicide prevention hotline.

Smyre Haire continued, “They’re juggling working with their kids at home and being the teacher, or their job and meeting those demands, or perhaps they’re newly unemployed as a result of this emergency.”

The Department of Mental Health is also prepared to meet the needs of the increased number of people feeling overwhelmed during this time.

Jennifer Butler outlined some ways the department has adapted its services to meet the changing needs of its clients during these uncertain times.

“We are doing this telephonically and also through telehealth. we’ve been a long standing partner with telepsychiatry across the state we are now equipping our physicians with Ipads and tablets so they can do telehealth with their patients.”

SC DMH is currently waiting for a federal disaster declaration so it can set up a virtual crisis counseling program. That virtual crisis counseling program is different than existing crisis programs in that it focuses solely on people dealing with stress and anxiety.

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